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Annual Gathering 2016
Thursday September 1st - Sunday September 4th

Twenty-seven members and guests attended the 2016 Annual Gathering which was centered near Kendall, Cumbria at the Shap Wells Hotel.

A Personal Reflection on the Annual Gathering September 2016

“Gentlemen. We have not the metal for them, retreat.”

Marquis of Tullibardine, after coming under fire from Hanoverian guns during the commencement of the Jacobite siege of Carlisle. November 1745.

The somewhat isolated Shap Wells Hotel, near Kendal in Cumbria was the Shap Wells Hotellocation of the Annual Gathering of The 1745 Association from Thursday, September 1 to Sunday, September 4, 2016. It was probably because of the hotel’s remote position that it was used as a prisoner of war camp for German officers during World War II. Situated in an area of outstanding natural beauty, it certainly provided members with excellent accommodation at a very reasonable outlay. The staff of the hotel were welcoming and friendly, the cuisine on offer first rate, and the service very efficient. The 1745 Association wishes to convey thanks to all who assisted with our comfort and welfare, it was very much appreciated.

Regrettably, the attendance was disappointingly low this year with 27 members and guests participating, either for the whole or part of the programme. However, as with all Gatherings, this was more than made up by renewing afresh, old friendships and endeavouring to make new attendees welcome. This social interaction always assists in making any Gathering successful.

Our Gathering this year was organised by Michael Cook and Janet Niepokojllzcka. A very fine docket of information for the days ahead was produced and given to each member after dinner on our first evening together. They both must take a considerable amount of credit in making this a very stimulating event, we therefore, wholeheartedly thank both Michael and Janet for their noble efforts.

Evening (Thursday September 1)

Following a most satisfactory dinner, we were given a talk by the infectiously enthusiastic Paul MacDonald, Armourer of Clan Donald and an accomplished swordsman in his own right. Paul has recently joined the Association and expressed his delight at being invited to speak to us. As an introduction, Paul talked about the progression of sword making throughout the centuries ranging from bronze to iron to steel, and brought to life how these swords were produced, before then concentrating on the basket-hilted broadswords of the 18th century, explaining the differences between “backswords” (one cutting edge) and “double edged swords” (two cutting edges) He also dispelled many of the myths that these weapons are heavy, and the way Hollywood depicted their use in films

Big Duncan MacKenzie’s swordHis demonstration of sword play was particularly enjoyed by members, and his prowess at sword making was demonstrated by his reproduction of “Big” Duncan MacKenzie’s weapon, including the damage done when striking though the helmet and head of a Hanoverian soldier at Prestonpans! But the undoubted “star of the show” was the actual sword belonging to the infamous Rob Roy McGregor. I confess a certain thrill at being able to hold this, surprisingly light, double edged weapon. While a thing of beauty in many ways, a lethal tool none the less. Paul was at pains to emphasise that swords were just that, “tools of the trade.” I have ordered a replica of this weapon from Paul, and I am greatly looking forward to hanging it in my hallway.

My pen could easily get carried away on this subject, but suffice to say we thank Paul for his talk and very much hope to see him at many Gatherings in the future.

Day One (Friday September 2)

The ancient city of Carlisle was to be our first destination, and we boarded the coach in eager anticipation. Carlisle’s history is fascinating. It commenced life as a Roman settlement, established to serve the forts and mile castles along the length of Hadrian’s Wall. Because of its close proximity to what was still the Kingdom of Scotland, Carlisle became a significant military city.

With the Union of Crowns in 1603, it was thought that Carlisle would become just another frontier city, but, of course, the two kingdoms of England and Scotland remained separate. There was much fighting in and around Carlisle during the English Civil War and the city changed hands several times between the Royalist and Parliamentary forces. The Act of Union in 1707 meant that it was now no longer a frontier city, but it did remain a garrison.

Returning to our coach journey, when entering the suburbs of the city, particularly the Brunton Park area, one could not but fail to observe the devastation the severe floods that had hit Cumbria earlier in the year had caused, with many properties remaining unoccupied, with skips and other detritus visible.

Our first visit was to Carlisle Cathedral where we had a most interesting tour, guided by Canon Weston. The Cathedral is the second smallest, after Oxford, of all English Cathedrals. It was founded initially as an Augustinian Priory, becoming a Cathedral in 1133. The building itself can be best described as Norman Gothic. One its main architectural features is the east window. The tracing of this window is in English Gothic style and is most complex, with its flowering decorated Gothic design. The window measures some 51 feet by 26 feet and is the largest in England, it still contains much of the original glass.

The Cathedral was also the location where that great Scottish author Sir Walter Scott was married, a little known fact I would suggest.

Canon Weston explained to us that during the English Civil War, part of the nave of the Cathedral was demolished by the Scottish Presbyterian Army, the stone to be used to bolster the defences of Carlisle Castle.

The main reason for our visit was, of course, the taking of the city by Jacobite forces in November 1745. It was at this point we were told that Rose Castle, situated about five miles north of the city, and the residence of the Bishops of Carlisle, had often been attacked by Scottish raiders, and it was one of the first buildings to be taken by the Jacobite Army in 1745.

A significant tale often told, is the taking of Rose Castle by Captain Donald og MacDonald of Kinlochmoidart where he interrupted a baptism, however, he ordered his soldiers to wait until its conclusion. He then apparently placed the white cockade from his bonnet, alongside the sleeping baby, in an attempt to give her some protection. It was at this point, that a stimulating debate took place between members and Canon Weston, as to whether it had been had actually been Kinlochmoidart himself, for he was still in Edinburgh as a “guest” of Government authorities on the dates specified. Following much discussion and frantic researching on “tablets” it was decided it may have been MacDonald of Tirnadris and not Kinlochmoidart, who was in fact the Scottish gentleman involved in this particular incident. Our knowledge is enhanced every day is it not?

Our visit concluded with Canon Weston showing us the two cramped bays within the nave of the Cathedral, where Jacobite prisoners were held, following the surrender of Carlisle to the Duke of Cumberland on December 30 1745.

Feeling much stimulated, and having thanked Canon Weston, we left the Cathedral and walked over to the nearby Market Cross, where James VIII/III was declared king. The cross actually stands in front of the Town Hall, where Jacobite prisoners were tried and sentenced, a sobering thought indeed. Having paid our respects at the cross we were taken over to the current Marks and Spencer building, which was the original site of Highmore House, where Charles Edward Stuart and the Duke of Cumberland both lodged (but not at the same time of course!) when in the city.

Our next port of call was to Tullie House Museum, situated next to the Cathedral. During the Jacobite occupation of Carlisle Tullie house was the residence of Sir John Arbuthnot, who had been appointed Governor of Carlisle by Charles Edward Stuart. Upon arrival we were shown into the Lecture Theatre, where we were given an interesting history of the city during the Jacobite stay, by the Curator Mr John Bonner and what occurred at the trials of the Jacobite prisoners, following the Duke of Cumberland’s retaking of the city. John indeed showed to us the note book of one of the trial judges John initially on screen, but he surprised us by producing the actual document, which we viewed later in the museum itself, together with several other Jacobite artefacts.

Attendees at the formal dinnerThe thing that struck home the most, I believe, when studying this notebook, was the brevity of the judge’s notes on each individual’s trial, just a matter of a few scribbled lines. How cheap these men’s lives appeared, ending either in death or deportation. Summary justice indeed.

On that happy note we made our way to the restaurant for a lunch of soup and sandwiches. Many of these fine sandwiches remained uneaten, perhaps a reflection on what had been heard earlier, certainly the notebook did not stimulate my own appetite.

Following lunch, a short walk took us to the 900 year old Carlisle Castle, currently managed by English Heritage and open to the public. The castle was, until quite recently, the administrative headquarters of the former King’s Own Royal Border Regiment and now county headquarters to the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment and a museum to that regiment was situated within the castle walls. (Unfortunately, due to lack of time we were unable to visit the museum)

The curator, Stuart Eastwood met us at De Ireby’s tower, the entrance to the castle. As with all guides he was a fountain of knowledge, giving a brief history of the building. Carlisle castle was first built during the reign of William II, son of the Conqueror. At that time Cumberland was considered to be part of Scotland. In 1122, Henry I of England, ordered the original wood and earth motte and bailey castle to be replaced with a stone structure. The existing keep dates from around 1135. Because of the constant threat from the Scots, the castle would change hands for the next 700 years. Interestingly, Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned in the Warden’s Tower for a short period, before being taken south to her eventual fate.

From a Jacobite perspective, the sieges of 1745 were the most interesting, with both the castle and the city changing hands between the Jacobites and the Hanoverians. Once the Duke of Cumberland had regained control, many Jacobites were held prisoner here, indeed 31 were executed in Carlisle for their part in the Rising.

The retaking of the castle in December 1745, marked the end of the castle’s fighting life, for now Scotland and England were Great Britain once more. The castle became somewhat neglected after this, and some parts were demolished for use as raw material in the 19th century, to leave the castle more or less how it looks now.

Stuart Eastwood showed us many interesting features of the building, but it was the dungeon, where Jacobite prisoners were incarcerated, that concentrated the mind. Crowded together in appalling conditions that are hard to imagine, men, women and even children were corralled together. The deprivation was so bad that the walls were used to try and get a little water. The “licking stones” are still to be seen in the corner of the cell.

It was in this sombre place that Stuart Eastwood informed us that it was possibly here that the song “Loch Lomond” was composed, by those who took “the high road” to execution and death and those who lived taking “the low road,” back to Scotland. A poignant and evocative moment to end our tour.

We returned to the Shap Wells hotel for dinner after a stimulating and thought provoking day, and what turned out to be a surprisingly lively AGM.

Day Two (Saturday September 3)

It was a “dreich auld day” that greeted us, the rain falling heavily, which it did all day unfortunately. However, we Jacobites are made of strong stuff and it did not dampen our spirits.

We were on our way to what turned out to be the delightful market town of Kendal and we were royally entertained by Janet in her capacity as guide for the day. She pointed out various landmarks, including the old drovers road that the armies of both Stuart and Cumberland used in 1745, one in pursuit of the other. Janet commented that had the Jacobite army used pack horses instead of carts, progress could have been much quicker, as these fleet-footed animals could sense any unseen obstacles and negotiate around them. As she had used a pack horse on a recent trek through Lakeland, she knew what she was talking about. There are some fascinating folk in The 1745 Association.

As this was to be a walking tour of the town, we were met by two members of the Kendal Civic Society, one of whom had recently been mayor. Both were lively characters and gave us much information with great humour. It was explained that the town lies in a valley or dale of the river Kent, thus “Kent Dale” or Kendal. Apparently, the third largest settlement in Cumbria, behind Carlisle and Barrow in Furness.

The town itself is structured around a high street, with fortified alleyways known as “yards” on either side, these “yards” allowed the local population to shelter from the Anglo-Scottish raiding parties, the notorious “Border Reivers” of the 18th century.

During the withdrawal from Derby, the Jacobites came through Kendal, and our guides gave an interesting account of a fracas that occurred in the High Street. Apparently, one of the town worthies took exception to this motley army coming through his town and attacked a Jacobite soldier, bad mistake, and a “stramash” broke out with injuries on both sides.

A mid-morning coffee break at the aptly named Charlie’s Café, gave us shelter from the pouring rain. This building was actually used by Charles Edward Stuart as a temporary lodging, but alas, no one seemed to know the actual room in which he slept. Needless to say William Augustus was accommodated in the lodgings later, but again it is not known if he used the same room.

Piece of plaid given to Mrs Graham of Ellerton Grange, by Charles Edward Stuart, 1746The most exciting moment we had, was when one of the guides produced a small oblong box. Inside the aforementioned box was a piece of tartan, with a paper inscription on the inside of the lid. “Piece of plaid given to Mrs Graham of Ellerton Grange, by Charles Edward Stuart, 1746.” Apparently, Mrs Graham was one of his ancestors and the box has been handed down through the family. In an effort to verify its authenticity it had been sent to Newcastle University for analysis, and the results showed it was probably genuine. The owner of the priceless artefact made sure he received it back, after passing it around the group!

After taking leave of our guides, we walked to Kendal Museum, one of the oldest in the country, with many exhibits and artefacts, including a Highlander’s purse, left behind following the High Street skirmish. It is said that a “wee bawbie” was found inside, surely that cannot be true!

Lunch was taken at the Riverside Hotel, before boarding the coach to the village of Clifton, the location for the last battle on English soil. On December 18 1745, Lord George Murray, who was in command of the Jacobite rear guard, set what was effectively an ambush. The MacDonells of Glengarry, poured flanking fire into the advancing Hanoverian regiments of Bland, Cobham and Mark Kerr, which were mostly cavalry. This took place just south of the village and Murray had deployed his men on the western side of the road. The Appin Regiment with the MacPhersons were placed on the other side of the road, facing the enemy. John Roy Stuart’s Edinburgh Regiment was in the village itself. Following a lengthy action a Jacobite victory ensued, and it helped delay the advance of Cumberland’s forces, allowing the Jacobites to eventually cross the border back into Scotland. Thirteen MacPhersons were killed as well as ten Redcoats.

We walked to the so-called “Rebel Tree” (I much prefer Patriot) primarily to commemorate the Jacobite dead, but the Hanoverian fallen were given the same privilege.

We had previously visited the medieval parish Church of Clifton, where we met up with John Nicholls MBE and his wife Elizabeth. John was to lay a wreath on behalf of “The Fifteen; The Northumbrian Jacobite Society,”as President of that august body.

Wreaths were laid under the 'Rebel Tree'A most dignified ceremony was conducted by the Reverend Robert Harley, under the trees, which concluded with the lament “The Floo’ers o’ the Forrest,” sung by Brian Whiting, a few moments of silent reflection followed. The sound of the rain, dripping down from the branches, enhanced a very moving moment. Wreaths were then laid under the “Rebel Tree” by Glen MacDonald on behalf of the 1745 Association and John Nichols MBE.

On return to the hotel, we prepared ourselves for the formal Annual Dinner of the Association.

At the conclusion of the meal, our guest speaker, John Nicholls MBE, gave a wonderfully witty and humorous speech, but also including a serious theme inasmuch he emphasised the part that Northumbrian Jacobites played in the Risings. Whilst the ’45 is perhaps the best remembered, we should never forget the Radclyffe brothers and the many others who fought in the ’15.

Philip Gruar on the Northumbrian small pipesWe were then entertained by Philip Gruar on the Northumbrian small pipes, in honour of our guests. Philip played wonderfully well in my opinion and he concluded his recital by playing and singing, “Derwentwater’s Farewell,” a song that always moves me greatly.

As it has now become something of a tradition, those of us with the stamina, retired to the bar and sang Jacobite songs. An added bonus, was the fact that the young barman Tom Skelhorn, could play the Highland pipes and he give us a quick rendition of Scottish tunes, very good he was too.

On Sunday morning, members dispersed to various parts of the world, with the promise of another Gathering to come in 2017. The location—London.

Brian A. Whiting, Editor

Thanks are due to Brian Whiting for the report and Steve Lord for the pictures.